NOTE: The question below reached us through our “online hotline” button which lets anyone send a question to a local counselor at Ozark Guidance — in a completely anonymous way. The email comes in with no email address and no identifying information. We set it up this way so women would feel free to write about anything on their mind.
Question: “After 27 years of marriage, I think my husband might be in a mid-life crisis or maybe something worse. I’m trying to be as supportive as humanly possible, but he took off for an entire night. When he came back on Mother’s Day, he was apologetic and affectionate. But I know he is spending time on sex-related websites, and he is also requesting female friends on Facebook. He is having online conversations with these women. What should I do? I am devastated.”
Response by Whitney Gates, LCSW, and Kim Bond, LMFT
Oh man! This situation could be difficult for anyone, mid-life or not. First, please remember that we cannot control another human’s behavior. Sometimes when a spouse misbehaves, the other spouse thinks it is their job to “fix” the issue and that rarely ever works in a relationship.
However, it’s important for you to set boundaries that are important to you. For example, if you don’t feel that it’s appropriate for a husband to be looking at sex-related websites, then you should tell him; if you don’t feel it’s okay for him to be talking online with other women, then you need to make these feelings clear. It’s important for your husband to know that his behaviors are causing emotional conflict for you.
A Marriage and Family Therapist could be very helpful in this area. They could help you both learn to discuss boundaries and how to set and hold those boundaries as needed, while working to compromise on other areas. It’s also important for you both to express your thoughts, feelings, and concerns while the other listens. A therapist will help you learn and practice these skills.
At the end of the day, you will each have to decide if you can live with the other person’s boundaries. Ozark Guidance has therapists that can help in this area. If your husband is not willing to attend therapy, then I encourage you to see a therapist individually who would help you with setting and holding boundaries as well as helping you to deal with the emotional stress of the situation. Either way, it’s important for you to get help in this area. When feelings are left unaddressed they can lead to long-term resentment, bitterness, and other unhealthy feelings. Please reach out to therapists and healthy support people. We wish you the best and hope to hear from you soon. You can reach us by calling 479-750-2020.
Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click here to read more questions and answers in the On Your Mind category. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.
Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.